Fall harvest and fall planting – The Wilcox Family

Since we utilize no-till production practices, we burned the last two years wheat stubble on this farm to give our canola stand a better chance at surviving the winter.

Since we utilize no-till production practices, we burned the last two years wheat stubble on this farm to give our canola stand a better chance at surviving the winter.

Fall is a busy time here on our farm. We are running about three different directions at the same time! We have finished up cutting our sorghum (milo) and started planting canola as of late Sunday night. Hopefully we will catch a rain here before too long, we have missed the last two, and while we are not terribly dry at this point, last years drought is still too close for comfort. Bring on the hurricane rain!

September is also full of meetings for us. We host crop insurance meetings, attend our county’s annual Farm Bureau meeting, and this year we have the addition of Farm Bill 2014 meetings. We are proud that our Representative Frank Lucas found a way to overcome a dysfunctional Congress and pass the 2014 Farm Bill into law, but now we farmers have to make lots of decisions that will affect us for the next 5 years (at least). I love fall, but I’ll be ready for winter so we can slow down a little.

Till next time… Clint and Jessica Wilcox

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Wrapping up wheat harvest and rocketing through summer – The Wilcox Family

A field of swathed Canola is about to get wet.

A field of swathed Canola is about to get wet.

Hello again! It feels like forever since I have sat down to write a blog post. Lots of exciting things going on here on the Wilcox Ponderosa, the most exciting of all of these is the fact that it is raining again! We are very thankful for the rain God has blessed us with starting back at the end May.

For many of my fellow farmers the rains came right as their wheat harvest was beginning and made harvesting below average wheat that much more “fun”. We were able to get our wheat and canola out in a mostly timely fashion. This year the combines/tractors/trucks all ran pretty well, whew!

We were lucky to have my Brothers help for most of wheat harvest… And this is why…

We were lucky to have my Brothers help for most of wheat harvest…
And this is why…

The 2014 wheat crop brought a myriad of challenges: early severe cold, drought, late freezes, oh, did I mention drought? We went 168 days here in Fairview this winter and spring without a single rain event that precipitated over a quarter inch. Some of our farms further to the North and West of town received even less, it was a really tough year.

As we put Wheat Harvest 2014 behind us, my thoughts turned to the same thing as everyone else’s – sweetcorn season! Wait, am I the only one that gets excited about sweetcorn? Anyway, my family in Eastern OK has a long standing tradition of bringing great sweetcorn to Eastern Oklahoma and Western Arkansas, and this year was no exception.

Yes- that’s a backhoe in the corn field- all hands on deck!

Yes- that’s a backhoe in the corn field- all hands on deck!

It’s been a busy summer on our farm- Thanks for following along!

It rained, and rained, and rained some more over in East OK this spring.

It rained, and rained, and rained some more over in East OK this spring.

Harvest has arrived! – The Wilcox Family

Swathing our canola into windrows

Swathing our canola into windrows

The end of May and beginning of June is a busy time here on our farm. We have started wheat and canola harvest! Before the combines get to rolling in the fields, there are many hours of shop work that must be done to make sure that everything runs as smoothly as possible when the wheat and canola are finally ready to go. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be breakdowns by any piece of chalk, though. Harvest and breakdowns are like peas and carrots, they just go together! Besides combines, there is the swather, the grain cart, tractors, headers, trucks and trailers that must be checked out to see if they are in good working order, too. Is it any wonder that our parts guys know us really well by the end of June?

Canola moisture was too high, so we switched to wheat

Canola moisture was too high, so we switched to wheat

The few fields we have harvested so far this year are yielding below half of what we usually grow in the same fields. This is disheartening, but we are thankful to have anything at all to harvest. The drought has really hit us hard up here in Northwest Oklahoma. It is also a testament to the amazing plant that wheat is. Some of our farms had less than 3 inches of moisture during the entire growing season (October to early May). The fact that the plants even grew is amazing!

Thanks for allowing us the opportunity to grow a safe, nutritious grain and oil seed for you and your family. I will have more pictures and I’m sure a good story or two for next month!

You can follow along with many farmers across the country as they bring in harvest by searching/following the #harvest14 hashtag on Twitter.

April snow showers bring May flowers? – The Wilcox Family

A late snowstorm on April 14 and subsequent freeze raises questions about canola and wheat in 2014.

A late snowstorm on April 14 and subsequent freeze raises questions about canola and wheat in 2014.

This is the scene in one of our canola fields this morning. We had a skiff of snow fall last night and this morning (April 14, 2014). While this is surprising, it’s not too unusual for us to have a little snow in April (last year it snowed a little on the 1st or 3rd of May). What makes this year’s late freeze so brutal is that our wheat has not had significant moisture since September of 2013 and the drought has stressed the wheat so much that it has literally went from a month behind to right on schedule in ONE WEEK! The canola is drought stressed also, but it seems to handle late freezes better than wheat does, generally speaking.

Getting the planter prepared to plant milo (grain sorghum) on failed canola.

Getting the planter prepared to plant milo (grain sorghum) on failed canola.

On a more optimistic note, Clint has been getting our planter geared up and ready to plant milo on the acres of canola that froze out earlier this winter. Hopefully the weather will permit us to grow a good crop of milo. We were planning on planting Milo (also called grain sorghum) early this year, but with no moisture in the soil profile and a not-so-promising weather outlook we are probably going to push our planting itinerary back and pray for the El Nino they keep talking about this fall.

We did a little prescribed burning on a Bermuda grass field early this month. Burning off the old growth and “thatch” accumulation will help control weeds, allow the new growth to take off sooner, and allow us to harrow the field to make it smoother for us to cut, rake, and bale more efficiently.

When I started talking to Clint about what to write about this month I didn’t think I had much to write about, but looking back we’ve been pretty busy. I think we are just getting ready for the craziness that is May!

Prescribed burning of bermuda grass mimics natural cycles.

Prescribed burning of bermuda grass mimics natural cycles.

Out like a lion – The Wilcox Family

A #Felfie (Farm Selfie) with Ichi Mav

A #Felfie (Farm Selfie) with Ichi Mav

I think it’s safe to say March is leaving like a lion! Remember back to grade school when they told us that if March came in like a lamb it would go out like a lion? I think my first grade teacher Mrs. Rose was on to something there!

We have been very busy with our crop insurance business this month getting our farmers spring and summer planted crops insured, and short rating any acres of wheat or rye that they want to hay or graze out (harvest on the hoof). All the farmers I talked to out here in Western Oklahoma said the same thing; please send rain! I can definitely sympathize with them.

Farmers, ranchers (and their animals are ready for green grass again!

Farmers, ranchers (and their animals are ready for green grass again!

I checked the Mesonet on 3/19/14 before I spoke at the Dewey County Conservation Districts Annual Meeting/Banquet – it’s been 119 days since we have seen over .25” of rain in a single rain event here in Fairview! As bad as that sounds, it’s been 150+ days in many other places across Western OK. No wonder our wheat price is up… As the wheat has started to break dormancy and grow, more and more blue tint is showing up in fields. This is not a good sign – it means that the moisture needed to grow the plants is in short supply. The fields of Canola that escaped this brutally cold winter are also starting to really green up. Canola seems to do a little better job finding the moisture in the subsoil than wheat does, but it could use a drink too.

Spring calves on the Wilcox farm.

Spring calves on the Wilcox farm.

We are over halfway done with our spring heifers calving. It’s been a mostly uneventful calving season so far – and that’s just fine with us! I can attest to the fact that there really isn’t much in life cuter than calves.

We are hopeful that rain will soon start falling on our farms and fields, but if it doesn’t we know that it isn’t in our control and it’s just another bump in the road of farm life. Happy Spring y’all!

Making it through the snow with happy cows – The Wilcox Family

The good news about black cows and white snow? It’s easier to count the cows!

The good news about black cows and white snow? It’s easier to count the cows!

We have finally seen the last of the recent snow melt up here! Moisture is always welcome in our part of Major County, but we were really getting tired of constantly checking tank heaters, draining hoses, and drudging through the snow!

Isn’t it funny how our perspectives change as we grow older? As a child, snow meant no school & a play day with friends; nowadays it just means a longer (& colder) day of doing the everyday chores on our farm. Still, I always look forward to the first significant snowfall of the year – it’s just the second and third that get a little rough.

Cow “Cake” or Cubes

Cow “Cake” or Cubes

We always feed plenty of extra hay to our cattle before a forecasted snow storm, but we still need to check for new calves (this time of year) daily and break ice on ponds in the few pastures that don’t have rural water and tank heaters (These also can burn out/quit so they also need to be checked daily). When the temperature drops, it is important that the cattle get some additional protein in the form of “cake” or “cubes” to help them combat the cold and keep their energy up.

The good news is that the moisture brought by this snow combined with the warmer temperatures should help bring on the cheat & ryegrass. Green grass = happy cows! “Happy cows” come from more than just California! They are found in pastures just like ours all across Oklahoma.

See you next month!
Clint and Jessica Wilcox

Meet Clint and Jessica – The Wilcox Family

Clint combining wheat, June 2013

Clint combining wheat, June 2013

As we rapidly approach Mid-January we realize how time flies, we run so quickly throughout the year as agricultural producers that we can find ourselves moving from one project to another without reflecting on what we have accomplished.  When we do reflect, it’s rewarding because in no other industry can you put a seed in the ground on Monday watch it emerge on Saturday and see it transform into another plentiful crop of seed in a few short months.  This blog is an opportunity for us to take the time to reflect and share a bit of our busy lives in agriculture with you.

Clint and Jessica in the Canola, April 2012

Clint and Jessica in the Canola, April 2012

We, Clint and Jessica Wilcox, farm in Northwest Oklahoma near Fairview.  We grow wheat, canola, grain sorghum, and we have a few head of cattle along with running a full service Crop Insurance Agency.  We are representing the At Large position on the Young Farmers and Ranchers Committee this year, while residing in District 7.

January started with planning meetings for the YF&R Committee, and we are excited about all that is to come this year and the opportunity to serve. Being a part of the YF&R State Committee is a great way to meet other young Oklahoma Farmers, and to learn from each other. Farming varies greatly across Oklahoma, but it is amazing how much Farmers have in common with each other!

Clint manning the booth at the KNID Agrifest, Jan. 2014

Clint manning the booth at the KNID Agrifest, Jan. 2014

As stated above, Jessica and I are crop insurance agents. We always have a booth at the KNID Agrifest farm show in Enid.   It was good show with a great turnout this year.  I guess with warmer weather everyone was tired of breaking ice from the previous weeks and ready for a break in the action.  These farm shows are like a giant reunion for the agriculture community, it’s always great to see old friends!

We spend most of January catching up around the farm, office, and house.

Cold days are spent in the office working on crop insurance, and in the shop working on combines and other equipment, and maybe if Jessica is lucky I will try and finish up some of the projects in the house that have been going on for many months if not years.

Clint and Jessica in the Canola, April 2012

Clint and Jessica in the Canola, April 2012

Besides farming and crop insurance, Jessica and I enjoy anything outdoors. If the weather is nice and the chores are caught up you can find us on a lake, golfing, or 4-wheeling somewhere across Oklahoma (and sometimes in CO).

We look forward to sharing snapshots of our lives with you this year. Be sure to follow along with all of us YF&R committee members, and thanks for stopping by!